-What is it?
SteamOS is a Linux based gaming environment which will if successful promote Linux as a platform and encourage hardware and software vendors to support and develop content for Linux as well as Windows, Mac and Consoles.
-Why does it matter?
Windows has the monopoly on PC based gaming, in part due to the driver support for graphics and display vendors. Adding support for Linux will massively increase the viability of mainstream Linux based OS in the home, as more gamers will be able to choose Linux over Windows as their OS of choice. Of course open source and free to use are real incentives to make the switch, especially if the extent of your PC use is gaming, web use and light office use.
There is also the hope that the Steam Box will help save PC gaming from further decline. The rise in popularity of console based gaming and decline of PC gaming is well known and frequently debated. A dedicated gaming PC that is designed to sit in your A/V cabinet and connect to your living room TV put’s it in direct competition with next gen consoles, like the XBOX ONE and Playstation 4, joining them in the ‘Battle for the Living Room’. Valve has a bespoke game pad (Steam Controller) in development to complete the couch gaming experience offered by the Steam Box, but there is nothing to stop you from using a traditional keyboard and mouse.
-What can you expect?
Steam customers that have purchased games via Windows will be able to download and play those games on Linux free of charge.
The entire Steam catalogue of 3,000 games available at the time of launch (via streaming).
A free stand alone operating system designed for the Big Screen TV for the living room.
A cross platform cloud with seamless content delivery.
There will ultimately be several ‘off the shelf’ preconfigured boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance. Alternatively you could build your own, or retrofit one of your existing PC’s. Valve have made it clear that SteamOS will be shipped from a number of hardware vendors, or distributed as a software download only.
The prototype listed on Valves website shows:
- CPU: i7-4770 or i5-4570
- GPU: nVidea GTX 660, 760, 780, Titan
- RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB GDDR5 (GPU)
- HDD: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
- Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high
It’s not yet known what the SteamBox models will look like, although there is speculation that a small form factor PC would make the most sense due to the application of the device. The smaller the box the better it will look in your A/V cabinet or next to your big screen TV. Some hardware vendors have received investment from Valve to continue development of devices which can run Steam (specifically the ‘Big Picture’ mode).
Based on the proposed hardware specification it’s unlikely that the Steam Box will be priced competitively against the XBOX ONE or PS3.
– Release Date
Expect the Steam Boxes to start shipping early 2014. Valve have hinted that SteamOS could be available for download soon, Q4 2013.
A hardware Beta will commence October 25th 2013, click here for a chance to take part.